Mayor Larry Jangula’s biggest goal for 2012 is to help Courtenay’s business community thrive.
“I think the most important thing for us is to preserve our business community, especially our downtown community, and to work to make sure that that stays healthy,” he said.
“If that area goes into decline, it’s like a domino effect, it’s like a big vacuum cleaner, it just sucks everything in with it, that means jobs, that means taxes, that means services.”
Jangula said he would really like to see something done with the old theatre property on 5th Street. He has a meeting set up in the new year with developers and members of the building community, and said he plans to ask them about this vacant lot.
The new Thrify Foods development on Ryan Road, which is already underway, and the proposed gas station/car wash/restaurant development next to Home Depot on Lerwick Road are two development projects that he thinks will be big in 2012.
Another big issue for Jangula is jobs, which goes hand-in-hand with business and developments.
“One of the things I would like to see happening is to have some additional jobs happen in the house and commercial building area, because it’s one of the best employers we have,” he explained.
Although he said the proposed underground coal mine project is not really in the City of Courtenay’s jurisdiction, he used it as an example of the balancing act between more jobs versus environmental concerns.
“One of the big issues that will be facing us in 2012 will be trying to balance the need for jobs for people with those who will have concerns about what those jobs will do,” he said.
Homelessness is another hot issue for Jangula, and he said he wants the proposed site for a homeless shelter on Cliffe Avenue and 10th Street be “permanently put to bed.”
He said several alternative properties have been discussed, and hopes council will revisit the issue in January.
However, he questions whether building a new shelter is the best way to keep people off the streets as the shelter would cost $2 million to build and about $1 million per year to run.
“That’s the other thing I think a lot of the politicains have been very unclear on is who do they think is going to fund this shelter if we were to build it,” he said.
He also pointed out that there’s already a shelter in Courtenay, and suggests adding more services to the existing one. Instead, subsidized housing is something he wants to take a hard look at.
“Really the bigger question should be should the community be pushing senior levels of government to look at subsidized housing,” he said. “Because when you think about it, how does a three-day stay at a shelter prevent you from being homeless?”
He suggests a set-up similar to Maple Pool Campsite, which is home to a Community Living Project for 54 low-income earners, seniors, disabled individuals and people who would otherwise be homeless.
“The model, the idea that’s happening at Maple Pool seems to work from what I can see, and it seems to take chronically homeless people and give them a place to live and it’s not breaking the back of the tax payers,” Jangula said.
Looking at the bigger picture, Jangula said the hopes that the upcoming U.S. federal election will boost their optimism and, in turn, possibly Courtenay’s economy.
“They’ll be spending money different ways, they’ll be promising different things maybe that’ll renew their hope, renew their optimism which will spin off onto us,” Jangula explained. “The American’s have always been our biggest customer; we forget about that so often that they’re our biggest customer.”